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Children Who Kill

NCJ Number
School Safety Dated: (Spring 1988) Pages: 12-16
C A McKelvey
Date Published
5 pages
In 1986, 1,311 juveniles were charged with murder. Such youth often suffer from antisocial personality disorder or sociopathy.
Changes in family patterns have contributed to factors at the root of psychopathic behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse, familial violence, feelings of abandonment, lack of bonding, and family disruption. Warning signs of sociopathy may include an inability to give or receive affection, cruelty to animals, lack of long-term childhood friends, stealing, learning disorders, and extreme control problems. Such character-disordered children are manipulative; appear to have no conscience; and often are involved in the unfeeling murder of their peers, siblings, or parents. Such children lack a sense of right and wrong and feelings of remorse and seem unable to learn from their mistakes. Most of these children come from very difficult home environments. They don't fit into regular classrooms or special programs, and if nothing is done, they will not fit into society in adulthood. Children need to learn how to trust and love before they can contribute positively to society. In addition to bonding and attachment, these troubled children need to learn new ways of behaving and thinking. More courses are needed to develop social skills, to teach right from wrong, and to help children examine the ramifications of their behaviors. Behavior modification, positive peer group influences, and counseling also may offer help for these troubled children.